The hand of Charlotte.
Nib: I own a range of different pointed pen nibs and it is quite normal for me to change up my nib choices every few weeks. Nib choice for me really depends on the type of paper/surface I am writing on and the type of work I am undertaking. For this exemplar, I used the Zebra G nib. Some other nibs that I use regularly include the Blanzy 552, Hunt 101 and Gillott 303.
Nib Holder: I switch between a few custom made pen holders and some budget commercially available pen holders such as the MOblique. I almost always use an oblique holder due to the type of script I practice.
Paper: When it comes to practice, I like to use paper that is matte and affordable. Surprisingly my go-to practice paper is just regular printer paper. Most printer paper I have used are able to hold inks such as walnut ink and sumi ink quite well with little bleeding.
For formal commission work, I tend to work with a range of papers from smooth glossy paper to extremely textured handmade paper.
For copperplate script, I generally practice from x-heights of 5mm up to 8mm. During my formal calligraphy practices, I almost always use guidelines, either printed on my practice paper or underlaid. I like to work with a proportion of 3:2:3, and up to 2:1:2.
When it comes to creating artworks and client work, my style can vary little. However, all my calligraphy work are developed from the bases of this formal style copperplate script that I am sharing with you here.
Ovals are key to my miniscule forms.
Within the x-height space, letters follow an oval at the slant of the guidelines.
The central weight of letters sit within the x-height
Ascenders and descenders follow a slender oval shape
Ovals and turns are executed in one continuous stroke rather than lifting the pen at the baselines.
Entrance and exit strokes approach the gradient of the slant. Ensure that they don’t curve backward to create a smooth transition to the following letter.
Always lift the pen when hairlines interact with shades, this prevents dragging of ink, keeping the letters clean and crisp.
Letters d, t and p extend to around the halfway mark between the header and ascender lines.
The letters x, s and p follow a crescent shape that follows the path of the right side of the ‘o’.
Descenders and ascenders are close reflections of each other in terms of size, slant and shape.
Consistency of fine hairlines, prominent shades and a fine transition is always the goal in my letterforms. While the styles found in many of my works deviate from this strictly formal style, this set of exemplars forms the root of many of my calligraphy styles. Mastering the control of the pen at the finest details allows me to vary and modify my script in any way desired.
About the Artist
Charlotte Xu is a calligrapher based in Melbourne, Australia. Her calligraphy style centers around classical Copperplate and Spencerian script. Today, she combines her eye for modern minimalist style with her traditional hand to create elegant, bespoke stationery and artworks for private weddings, corporate events, and more.
Charlotte is the co-founder, and heads Scribblers Collective Australia.